Dame of the Hand Tattoo
January 21, 2020 10:14 AM   Subscribe

It’s much better to age disgracefully! “My mother once said, ‘Never worry about getting older. I know the thought of you being 45 when you’re 25 is, Oh, my god! Who wants to be 45? But it’s amazing because when you get to be 45, you’ll realize it’s actually very cool and you don’t want to be 25 again,'" [Helen Mirren] told Vogue. "And I have to say, she was absolutely right. With every age comes advantages and disadvantages. And you tend to find that you don’t want to go back. You want to be exactly where you are with everything you’ve experienced.”
posted by stoneweaver (37 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 


Helen Mirren has been famous since she was like 20 years old.
posted by rhizome at 10:48 AM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Yeah I wouldn't want to be my literal 25 year old self again unless I could leave myself a note or two. I'd be willing to get my 25 year-old body back if I could keep everything I've learned but I'm told that's not an option.
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on January 21 [27 favorites]



Helen Mirren has been famous since she was like 20 years old.

she's certainly been doing great work for a long time. But famous? I don't really recall her getting that much of the spotlight until Prime Suspect by which point she was well into her forties.

I first noticed her in O Lucky Man about twenty years before that.
posted by philip-random at 10:58 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the whole point of dreaming of being young again is that you get to keep the memories of the mistakes you made and hopefully avoid them. (Which might lead to entirely new mistakes. But anyway.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:59 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]




I'm glad for her to have lived a life that leads to, and allows her to have, this vantagepoint. I can't say, though, it's terribly inspiring, personally. I'm a mere 12 years younger than Mirren, and, honestly, unless you've managed to achieve a level of wealth and/or fame, growing older generally sucks. That said, as Halloween Jack points out, the only way anyone would want to actually go back to a younger self is if you retain your accumulated knowledge.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:08 AM on January 21 [10 favorites]


March, 2014: In five years I will likely send myself back in time to kill me as I am typing this com

Must have been a closed loop temporal alteration that necked off the main timestream. td (prime?) was still posting as late as last week.
posted by bonehead at 11:20 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


What you can learn about life from Oscar-winner Helen Mirren’s tattoo (CNBC, 2017)
“I know, it’s hard to believe, Dame Helen Mirren does have a tattoo. I got my tattoo when only Hells Angels, sailors and convicted felons got them,” the British actress tells the graduates.

“When I was on my journey through young adulthood, in that glorious and confusing time that was the early 1970′s, I looked in a lot of different places for answers — eastern, western and all over the place.”

Mirren found solace and inspiration in a Mayan phrase she discovered: “in La’kesh.” She had it tattooed on her left hand.

“In La’Kesh,” she explains, means “You are my other self. We are one. I am another yourself.”

In other words, “We’re all in this together,” Mirren explains. “Remember that, so that you can make some sense out of and fix this crazy, crazy world.”
In a 2014 Daily Mail article has a picture of the two interlocking V's tattoo and a slightly different meaning
The 68-year-old actress said: ‘I have a tattoo that means "love they neighbour" – even if your neighbour is as different from you as you can possibly imagine. The story of this film is in my tattoo.
...
‘That’s where real hatred is bred. It’s the guy living next door who cuts the tree down, or the one whose kids scream the whole night.

‘Your neighbours are as important as your house. When you have great ones it’s incredible – they’re someone you can leave the key with when you travel.’
Dame Mirren is thinking about getting a second, per a 2019 Daily Mail article, which links a 3rd description, and more on the source of her tattoo, from The Independent:
"I got very drunk on a reservation," Mirren replied, laughing. "Does anyone ever get a tattoo when they're not drunk?

"It was done with a safety pin, it was so painful. Oh my god. Like a prison tattoo. It represents a very beautiful idea which is basically 'equal and opposite', that someone can be as different from you as you could possibly imagine, but have equal value to yourself, that's something I believe in life."
And here's another musing on In Lak’Ech (you are my other me), by Luís Valdez and Domingo Martinez Paredes. It sounds like a hard to define phrase, so all of the above could be suitable translations.


Back to the topic: at 40, 45 doesn't sound too far away, or too daunting. And I think the heaviness of "middle age" (and in turn, older ages), has shifted over time. My brother reminded me that my dad got a whole "over the hill" birthday party at 40, with black jellybeans and other humorously ominous decorations. I forgot all that until he reminded me, and I can't recall seeing any "over the hill" birthday cards like there used to be in the U.S. for 40.

A while back, a younger cashier positively (?) said I dressed more like I was in my 20s (kooky taco-print button shirt and bright yellow converse). Yesterday, a teenage grocery store employee chatted with me about my (in my eyes) retro Mtv shirt, asking me what my favorite show was. My first thought was to say "120 minutes," but I thought I'd confuse him.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:23 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


unless you've managed to achieve a level of wealth and/or fame, growing older generally sucks

I don’t have wealth or fame and I’m pretty happy about aging so far. I have some age-related orthopedic issues but they’re not as troublesome as other health issues I had when I was younger. I look way better for my age now than I have at any other point. Sex is SO much better it makes me want to weep for younger me. I have way less anxiety than I have at any point prior and expect the trend to continue. Maybe that’s because so many very bad things have happened that normal life feels like a fantasy vacation, but, whatever the cause, I’m on a much more even keel now. I have more friends than I ever did when younger.

My mom is 76 and has a host of health problems, a very limited income, and no family nearby, but she’s the happiest person I know, so I have reason to believe that my own trajectory will be similar.
posted by HotToddy at 11:37 AM on January 21 [11 favorites]


I turned forty in June. I try not to talk about this too much with my friends because a lot of them seem to be struggling with getting older but every year of my adult life has been better than the one before. Childhood was an absolute horror show and my early twenties were mostly spent dealing with the wreck my childhood had left me. Then I hit my stride and it feels like year after year I figure out a little bit more and things keep getting better.

I have had my heart broken by people I assumed would be with me for the rest of my life. I have buried friends and eulogized a parent. I have scars both figurative and literal; a couple look kind of cool but most are just ugly. A handful of body parts have failed in fairly spectacular ways. I expect that these small tragedies will continue as I age and I am undaunted by this prospect because holy socks do I enjoy getting older.

Most of the people I know who are lamenting their forties seem to have forgotten they were miserable in their twenties, too.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:45 AM on January 21 [31 favorites]


I'd be willing to get my 25 year-old body back if I could keep everything I've learned but I'm told that's not an option.

You just need to guard this painting of yourself and lock it away in a closet, also, NEVER look at it, it'll make you lose your mind, but yeah, it's a simple deal, just sign on the dotted line.
posted by Fizz at 11:49 AM on January 21 [20 favorites]


You just need to guard this painting of yourself and lock it away in a closet, also, NEVER look at it, it'll make you lose your mind, but yeah, it's a simple deal, just sign on the dotted line.

I continue to ponder opening an Etsy shop where you send me a picture of yourself now and I send you back a painting of yourself old and suffering the ravages of decades of sin which you then hide in your attic.
posted by hanov3r at 12:38 PM on January 21 [13 favorites]


I'm happy now at 41 and I was happy at 25. The one thing that 25 had going for it, apart from a much faster metabolism, was the sense of possibility. There were any number of futures there before me. Now I kind of know what the future has in store for me and I'm good with it but I can feel that lack of possibility sometimes.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:41 PM on January 21 [15 favorites]


I imagine it is easier to be happy with your older ages if you are wealthy, comfortable, and successful in them. I do not believe most of us peasants get that luxury.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:11 PM on January 21 [16 favorites]


Yeah wealth might not be a panacea, but it seems like 70% of a panacea these days.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:10 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


It's a healthy attitude for her to have, and she's Helen Fucking Mirren, so I wouldn't dream of disrespecting her; she's fantastic. Me, I look good today. My hair looks pretty good, my red scarf is cheery. No one will see me anyway because I am not wealthy or famous. I may, in some small ways, be a little bit fantastic, but when you are old, that's not nearly enough.
posted by theora55 at 2:36 PM on January 21 [9 favorites]


I'm 38 and I fantasize on a daily basis about the supervillain-ass horrific shit I would do to get the last ten years back
posted by penduluum at 3:05 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


In many ways my 40s are better, but unfortunately the one big way (being in constant pain) kind of outweighs most of that. Plus the government has made it extremely difficult to access the one medicine that works, and unlike in my 20s I don't know how to access it illegally (and would be risking more to do so).

Health/body issues are the one thing that money can only do so much for, also (look at Steve Jobs, for example).

So I think this one comes down to luck to some extent as well, as health is something you only have so much control over and generally just gets worse (you can do things about it, but those things also work in your 20s and are easier to do).
posted by thefoxgod at 3:16 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


theora55, I like your red scarf. Your hair looks pretty good too!

I did a lot of dumb shit when I was in my 20s. I still do in my 50s but I try to stay at home when I do it.
posted by lyssabee at 6:12 PM on January 21 [17 favorites]


I was a (bad) gymnast and a (worse) magnet-school “gifted” student as a kid. I remember feeling “over the hill” right around age 10. I also tend to “read older” (best friend says it’s my “strong nose,” which I find flattering).

Now, at 38, as then, it’s people two generations ahead of me doing most of the making-me-feel old, with their “Happy birthday! Don’t worry, I won’t ask which one!” (dozens fewer than you, stop trying to be sassy) and their “Do you remember where you were when JFK was shot?” (my Dad was 13, so...no?).

And it’s the people five years my senior making me feel like a sweet summer child, just as it was before...but, darnedest thing, it’s actually sweet this time.

Anyway, the “too late” feeling wears like a perfectly-broken-in shoe at this point. I’ve had all this time to get used to it — it was too late to be a profitable prodigy in 1992, too late to be attractive to old men in 2012, too late to sell my eggs in 2015, too late to join the FBI in 2019. I’m still figuring out what it’s not too late to do, but so far it’s been a fun puzzle to solve.
posted by armeowda at 7:13 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


I got my nose pierced (just a nostril stud, nothing fancy) at age 49 and 3/4. Guess that puts me in the aging disgracefully camp. For sure, it makes it easier to smile when I look in the mirror.
posted by tuesdayschild at 8:00 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Well, I'm 61. I honestly didn't think I'd see 30. I had seriously bad asthma as a kid. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I got into punk rock and drugs. Why not? It seemed like a good idea at the time. One day I realized all of my friends were assholes and I was probably the biggest asshole of the bunch, and got sober. That's when I tried to figure out careers n shit. Nothing stuck, every career, turned out to be just another bad job , only with more pressure. Finally in my mid to late 30's I went to art school, I just wanted to take some time for me. It was awesome, I didn't want to graduate. I had the best time of my life. It accidentally led me to my career. I work in the campus library.I've been there almost 20 years. That's 10 times longer than the previous record holder for jobs (yes that would be 2 years). I run and work out, I'm mostly happy, I make art, I have friends, my family wants me in their lives, I'm not always sure why. I try to treat everyone the way I want to be treated, but I'm from Philadelphia so sometimes it's hard not to say "What are you, stupid!? I don't want to be that clueless hurtin' unit I was in my teens & 20's. I still love punk rock but I only listen once in a while. Growing old ain't always so bad.
posted by evilDoug at 8:25 PM on January 21 [23 favorites]


Yeah, I'm 41 and my life probably appears perfect from the outside...

But fuck I would sacrifice all of that to Satan to be 17 again.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:10 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I would like to be 25 again in this era of online gigs/Lyft etc. and indie art driven by social media because I would probably have never gone to grad school, would teach online/maybe work at a coffee shop, and would be fine being a "starving" artist. Would probably also vagabond around the world more. Still, I was very lost and depressed at 25, didn't work on my art for a variety of reasons, struggled a lot with my identity and my place in the world, so I know that is the bias of wisdom and self knowledge I've gained via living and experimenting.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:34 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I am a happier person (and, more importantly, much nicer to be around) now in my 40s than I was in my 20s. There are definitely things I miss about being younger, like the physical aspects and the general sense of possibility, but there is a lot that I don't miss, too.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:13 AM on January 22 [5 favorites]


I'm recently 43, and I've been shocked to find myself crashing headlong into a profound midlife crisis over the past year. I thought for sure I'd made choices to inoculate myself against it - following my bliss, making music and art and new friends, traveling the world, never settling into a job/career I hated - but the fucker still got its fangs into me. I'm very slowly learning how to course-correct with the help of an awesome therapist, but I still find myself thrashing about for evidence that all the doors in life haven't already closed behind me. So if today that person is Helen Mirren, I'll take her.
posted by mykescipark at 8:17 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


My 40s were hard, but I attribute that mostly to a run of COLOSSALLY shit luck and poverty than I do to age.

Then again, I'm once again unemployed (yeah, long story) but I'm way less tense and nervous about it than I was before. On the other hand - the week and a half I've been kind of "off" has got me feeling better than I have in years.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:41 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


When she was in her 70's, I asked my grandmother what decade of her life she liked best. She said it was her 50s, because she had enough experience to feel confident in what she was doing, but still had enough energy to do it well. That really stayed with me. I'm still a couple of years away from hitting the big five oh, but I think I dread it less because of that conversation.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:51 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


My 50s, warts and all, have been my best decade since childhood, largely because I have had enough money to eat and pay rent on a regular basis.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 12:43 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


It's sort of incredible to me that so many of you feel that money is what makes the difference in liking yourself more as you age. I'm never going to be rich or famous, but I sure can make best friends with myself and glory in my growth as a person. I can't wait to meet me in 20 years. I'm sure that many of my everyday stresses and worries will be the same (or due to world events, be worse), but I am also deeply hopeful that I will be more content in myself and more able to weather those storms. That's not money, it's internal resilience and thoughtful cultivation.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:00 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


It's sort of incredible to me that so many of you feel that money is what makes the difference in liking yourself more as you age

I think a lot of that depends on how much money you have. If you can comfortably eat, and not worry about imminently ending up homeless, then sure, lots of other things can matter. If you don't have the means to in any meaningful way participate in society or have any kind of stability in your life, then money is going to seem like a much bigger issue. Speaking just for myself, I don't want to be rich or famous, but I do want to be able to engage in gainful employment and not have to have at least half a plan about where you could maybe get away with pitching a tent to live in next month, and exactly what handful of possessions to prioritise carrying with you when you do.
posted by Dysk at 1:57 PM on January 22 [5 favorites]


It's sort of incredible to me that so many of you feel that money is what makes the difference in liking yourself more as you age

Well, since most of us are facing a future where we never get to retire because we never earned enough to support ourselves and save for it, I think it's understandable that money is something of a concern, no?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:36 PM on January 22 [9 favorites]


I don’t see anyone making a connection that more money equals self-admiration.

Having money makes everything better and affords more possibilities and less stress and allows you time to relax and engage in self care in ways that being poor do not.

That’s something I learned in my 50s.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:03 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Helen Mirren IS great, but I'm 45 and would love to be 25 again. Specifically 24, in the time period in which I was 24, because I am not attractive enough to be a current day millennial (or gen Z?) being constantly photographed. Maybe if you are a very attractive and successful 45 year old you do not want to be your struggling 25 year old self again, but many of us who maybe took the wrong road or path or whatever (or feel like we did) earlier would really like the re-do option.
posted by bquarters at 6:38 PM on January 23


> Having money makes everything better and affords more possibilities and less stress and allows you time to relax and engage in self care in ways that being poor do not.

Most of my friends and I are late 40s to early 50s, and the differences finances makes is enormous. Who's eyeing retirement, who's going to have to work until they die, who can look after their parents, who can get their medical and mental illnesses treated, whose bodies are breaking down from decades of physical work, who can take their kids on international vacations. I lived with chronic pain for years and it sucked, but I have friends who also have chronic pain or similar illnesses and don't have the resources I do, and it's so much worse.

So far I like aging except for the aches and pains.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:01 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Yeah, my 50s are more hurty than I'd care for, but then, I remember what I did in the 5 decades previous, and really, it seems only fair. ;)
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:13 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


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